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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Recently resigned Nashua Rep. Laughton among candidates to fill her vacated seat

NASHUA – When Ward 4 voters head to the polls next year to fill the state representative seat vacated by Stacie Laughton last month, they’ll likely be overcome with a feeling of deja vu.

Among the list of candidates is Laughton herself, who filed Friday morning in Concord to run for her own former seat. ...

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NASHUA – When Ward 4 voters head to the polls next year to fill the state representative seat vacated by Stacie Laughton last month, they’ll likely be overcome with a feeling of deja vu.

Among the list of candidates is Laughton herself, who filed Friday morning in Concord to run for her own former seat.

Democrat Pam Brown, of 2 Clocktower Place, Apt. 209, is the only new name on the list. Republican Elizabeth Van Twuyver, of 9 Pine Hill Ave., who ran and lost in the November election also filed to run again.

Laughton first announced last week that she planned to run for her former seat.

“I’m confident that I still have a lot of support out there, but as far as with any election, we never can tell how the voters are going to lean,” she said. “Politics can be an up and down game, and ultimately the voters are always right.”

Laughton made history, and gained national attention in November when she was elected as the first openly transgendered lawmaker in New Hampshire. She gave up the post 20 days later over questions about several felonies she committed in Laconia under the name Barry Charles Laughton, Jr. in Laconia.

State law requires a special election be held to replace Laughton rather than simply filling the seat with the next highest vote-getter.

The Board of Aldermen, charged with arranging the city’s elections, could have opted to leave the seat vacant or to hold the special election. Earlier this month, the board suspended its rules to immediately request an election be held.

And while Laughton first spoke out against holding an election, saying it would cost too much for taxpayers, she soon changed her tune. Her filing Friday morning assured that the city would have to hold both a Democratic primary and general election for the seat, putting the tab to replace Laughton at $4,350.

But despite the controversy that led to Laughton’s resignation from the state legislature, it appears there is nothing stopping her from running for the position again.

No state law bars a candidate from re-running for a seat they recently resigned: any qualified person can run, Assistant Secretary of State Karen Ladd told The Telegraph last week.

State law prohibits convicted felons from running for or holding office until their final discharge from prison, but legal professionals and political leaders aren’t clear on the definition of “final discharge.”

In 2008, Laughton was sentenced to 71⁄2 to 15 years for conspiracy to commit credit card fraud, suspended pending 10 years of good behavior, and 31⁄2 to seven years for falsifying physical evidence, again suspended to 10 years for good behavior.

She served 12 months, with four months suspended, in the Belknap County jail for conspiracy to commit fraudulent use of a credit card. The remainder of her sentence remains suspended until 2019.

“I believe that I’m duly qualified and eligible the way the law is written because I’m in the suspended portion of my sentence,” Laughton said last week.

Laughton’s opponents for the seat believe they also have what it takes to serve Ward 4.

Van Twuyver ran for the Ward 4 seat this fall but failed to win a seat, gaining 754 votes. All three of the candidates selected to represent Ward 4 in the state house were Democrats.

Van Twuyver has lived in Nashua for 33 years, and was the former office manager for Sodexo at Rivier College. She has worked as a software engineer, course developer and technical writer for major computer manufacturers.

She ran for the Ward 4 state representative seat twice before this year, and currently serves on the city’s Board of Education.

Brown has lived in Nashua since 1997. This is her first time running for public office, which she said she sees as an opportunity to serve the community she has grown to love. Brown is interested in working to reverse the effects of budget cuts to schools, higher education and social services, and said she can bring the experience of working for corporations and nonprofits, financial services and human services.

Danielle Curtis can be reached at 594-6557 or dcurtis@nashua
telegraph.com. Also follow Curtis
on Twitter (Telegraph_DC).